Archives For Reviews, books

Books to read in 2018

January 22, 2018

I was recently asked what books I plan to read in 2018. My goal this year is to read books that assist me while I teach in the academy (Undergraduate College & Seminary), serve in the church, and grow in my personal life. Baptist Bible Seminary recently posted a quick word regarding two resources I plan to read this new year. You can catch the story here. I do plan to read more than the two represented here, and as those decisions are made, I will post titles, short snippets, and/or reviews of the resources I read.

Not sure how I missed this on the fall conference tables, but there is a new edition of D. A. Carson’s NT Commentary Survey. 7th ed. Baker, 2013. 176 pgs. pbk. ISBN: 9780801039904.

If you are not familiar with this resource, you really ought to be, esp. if you are a pastor, student, or even a NT specialist. (The pastor is the primary target audience.) The burgeoning number of commentaries of various sorts on just about any NT book makes it nigh impossible for most of us to keep track of what’s available and to what our attention might profitably be due—and these two categories do not coincide!

That is the value of the extensive survey and analysis that Carson provides. His analysis does not consist of reviews of each volume—that would take an encyclopedic work. Rather he gives you his conclusions as to the best works available on each NT book along with extensive listings of other resources grouped in various categories. For many there are very brief comments as to why they are listed as they are. That is where the Survey shines. This is not just a dull bibliography. Carson writes with verve and pulls no punches. It’s the only bibliography with which I am familiar that can produce chuckles and even peals of laughter as you read. (If you are a commentary writer, it may also produce tears!)

When I was pastoring and the early editions of this Survey became available (many years ago now) my practice, which I commend to young pastors seeking a pattern for their preaching and study, was to look ahead at my intended preaching schedule and then consult Carson and the other bibliographies available (in the early years—1980s—Barber’s Minister’s Library was another standby, but now obsolete) to see what I had and what was recommended. I’d then buy 3 or 4 of the best of those recommendations so as to have on hand the tools I’d be most likely to profit from in the coming year as my preaching schedule materialized into actual sermons.

I’ll append some of my favorite comments from a few NT books as a sample and then suggest that you visit your favorite book source and get your own copy (yes, even if you have the 6th ed.; the additions and new/expanded sections are worth it). I’ll leave the more negative comments anonymous as to the writer so described; you can find them for yourself if you’re interested. If it appears that there are more negative than positive, that’s true of the book overall. Carson’s goal is, I think, to hi-light the best and indicate why others do not measure up.


6 best commentaries for pastors are: France, Edwards, Stein, Lane, Hooker, and Brooks. (These are followed by a mixed summary of their strengths that I’ll not reproduce here.)

Negative assessments

  • “Sometimes incautiously speculative in its re-creation of the church circumstances Mark allegedly addresses.”
  • “Far too speculative regarding what can be known about the historical Jesus. Mark emerges as a late Paulinist.”
  • “He is stimulating but irritating, owing to a penchant to read behind the passage rather than the passage itself, and sometimes to read in defiance of the passage.”
  • “So odd I am uncertain why it was published.”


“Until a few years ago, the book of Acts was still not particularly well served by commentaries, but this has changed. The first choice today for pastors and students is David G. Peterson (PNTC, 2009). It reflects careful work across the gamut of integral disciplines: text criticism, grammatical exegesis, historical considerations, literary criticism, and, above all, robust theological reflection.’

Also commended are Schnabel (ZECNT), Bock (BECNT), Barrett (ICC), and Fitzmyer (AB).

Less complementary assessments

  • “Its deviously complex reconstructions of Luke’s sources and theological interests not infrequently in defiance of hard evidence, make it an unsuitable starting point for most preachers.”
  • “Amazingly thin on theology, for which coins and inscriptions are no substitute.”
  • “Not theologically rich but is generally useful if one overlooks the occasionally intrusive semi-Pelagianism.”
  • “Only rarely reflects careful exegesis. Theology that is too abstracted from the history in which God embedded its disclosure, let alone careful contextual reading of the text, is in danger of being free-floating, rootless.”
  • “Sometimes more interested in communication than in a careful understanding of the material to be communicated.”
  • “Sometimes confuses carefully examined social context with comparatively uncontrolled modern social theory.”


“Although one or two reviewers of earlier editions of this Survey have criticized me for saying so, with distinct lack of repentance I continue to think that the best Romans commentary for pastors available in English is still the work of Douglas J. Moo (NIC, 1996). It is becoming a bit dated now, and its introduction is thin, but Moo exhibits extraordinary good sense in his exegesis. No less important, his is the first commentary to cull what is useful from the new perspective on Paul while nevertheless offering telling criticisms of many of its exegetical and theological stances. The combination of the strong exegesis and the rigorous interaction makes the work superior to…”

“Occasionally Cranfield [ICC, 2 vols.] seems more influenced by Barth than by Paul, but for thoughtful exegesis of the Greek text, with a careful weighing of alternative positions, there is nothing quite like it. It is rare that a commentary provides students with an education in grammatical exegesis.”

Less complementary assessments

  • “Its socio-rhetorical interpretation is too narrow, too horizontal, and, finally, too unconvincing.”
  • On many issues I could not avoid the feeling that the exegesis in this commentary is agenda-driven.”
  • “Suitably faddish but too often misses Paul’s point.”
  • “Characterized by somewhat untamed rhetoric when he dismisses those with whom he disagrees.”
  • “Will fill your soul with lovely thoughts, even if you have something less tangible at the end than you expected.”
  • “The thesis as a whole is frankly reductionistic; … makes the epistle feel as if it is a book about [the commentary writer’s] own ideas rather than something rooted in history.”

Misc. comments from other books (not identified here)

  • “Shows too many signs of haste. More irritatingly, it does not seem to have been edited or proofread.”
  • “Written with color and verve…. The work is an exercise in brilliantly phrased reductionism.”
  • “Wordy and often betrays too little time and care taken with the text, so that they cannot be read as reliable commentary.”
  • “Painfully divorced from the historical Jesus: one marvels at how bright [the biblical author] is and how unknown Jesus is.”

More could be said and excerpted, but this is enough to encourage you (I hope!) to make good use of this book.

The fall sale circular from American Bible Society just arrived with their annual student sale. Go to and enter promo code SCHOL40 at check out for 40% off. Some of the items you’ll find:

UBS Greek NT, 4th rev. ed., Item #112824, ISBN, 978-3-43805-110-3, list $43.99, sale $26.39 {Note to my students in NT503 and LA302: this is the one you’ll need for second semester.

The more technical edition (for more detailed exegesis and textual criticism) is the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graeca, 28th ed., Item #123842 (for the standard ed.; there are also leather bound and large print eds.), list $45.99, sale $27.59.

If you’re feeling extravagant, you can get the combined ed. of Rahlf’s LXX (2nd ed.) and NA28, Biblia Graeca, item #124057, list $149.99 for a sale price of only $89.99! The combined edition of BHS and NA*27* is the same price.

Any of the other related works such as Metzger’s Textual Commentary, SQE, Rahlf’s LXX, BHS (large print, standard, or paper), BHQ fascicles, etc. are listed as well.

Read Mark Ward’s review of Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J. Kruger. (I’ve only scanned the book myself.) Mark has another review of a new apologetics book (Oliphint’s covenantal apologetics), but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the book.

New book forthcoming

July 3, 2013

I received permission from the publisher to share the information on the book I mentioned yesterday.

Stanley Porter, How We Got the New Testament: Text, Transmission, Translation. Arcadia Studies in Bible and Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, forthcoming. Paperback, ca. 220 pgs. ISBN: 9780801048715

This book contains the 2008 Hayward Lectures (probably substantially expanded) at Arcadia Divinity School in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The brief blurb that I wrote is as follows:

Porter provides a wide-ranging historical summary and assessment of topics that are crucial to NT studies and to the church. Although the text and transmission of the NT has been discussed extensively in many prior works, this book is particularly useful because it is current with recent debates (and there are such debates!). Particularly helpful is the treatment in part 3 of modern translations and relevant theories regarding them. The discussion here goes well beyond the usual considerations of formal versus functional equivalence.

A second-hand book review

April 16, 2013

Occasionally I read a book review that’s good enough to mention all by itself. In this case it sounds to me like a book that I probably ought to read, but which my current schedule makes an unlikely event. But I’m glad I read the review. Whether the reviewer or the book author deserves the credit, I don’t know without reading the book. Since I won’t be able in the forseeable future to resolve that question, I’ll just point you to the review itself, hoping that at least some of you will have time to go beyond the review and read the book—and then you can chime in here in the comments to tell me what you think.

Mark Snoeberger, “Review of The Juvenilization of American Christianity (Eerdmans, 2012) by Thomas E. Bergler.” Theologically Driven blog by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary faculty.

I’ll conclude this post with Mark’s concluding words from his review: Tolle Lege.

I just finished reading a book that came off the press within the last month:

Dave Brunn, One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? IVP, 2013. 205 pgs. $16.00, pbk. ISBN: 9780830827152.

This book contains a perspective that I have long thought needed to be heard in the debate over English translations: that of a Bible translator working in a language other than English. Brunn repeats several time a statement to the effect that “well-meaning Christians unwittingly [make] English the ultimate standard for Bible translation” (this instance from p. 180). This is not a statement directed toward the “KJV-Onlyism” cult perspective (though it is certainly relevant in that context). Rather it refers to the more “main stream” discussions over contemporary English translations. Too often that discussion has been framed in terms that reflect only English translation. Guidelines are established, boundaries are set up, and translations are judged on the basis of principles that work only in English. Brunn makes the very valid point that if we establish specific criteria that must be followed in Bible translation, then those criteria should be valid in any language. (Yes, there are some English-specific considerations that come into play in our language, but those are not of the principle/criteria level, but of the application of the underlying principles.)

The book does not work from a theoretical model to specific application (as do most other discussions). Rather he begins with many, many examples of what has been done in a wide range of translations and then asked the pertinent questions regarding the theory involved. The results are both interesting and insightful, particularly in demonstrating how extensively “modified literal” translations use “idiomatic” renderings (his terms). “No version consistently follows its own ideals” (191). He does not argue that one particular translation or translation model is best. Rather, he argues like this:

It is not humanly possible to create a single translation that is perfectly balanced in all respects. For that reason, I recommend that every serious student of the Word have and regularly use a variety of translations—some modified literal ones and some idiomatic ones. That is the surest way to find balance in our understanding of Scripture.

Based on their ideals, the translators of each English version approached the translation task from a slightly different angle. The learner who is willing to walk all the way around a passage of Scripture, pausing to view it from each of these angles…, will come away with a more complete understanding than someone who reads and studies only one Bible version (166).

A key section of his concluding chapter summarizes what he has demonstrated in the book. (I’ve slightly revised the format of this list and omitted chapter references.)
Every version:

  • Translates thought for thought rather than word for word in many contexts.
  • Gives priority to meaning over form.
  • Gives priority to the meaning of idioms and figures of speech over the actual words.
  • Gives priority to the dynamics of meaning in many contexts.
  • Uses many renderings that are outside of its ideal range.
  • Allows the context to dictate many of its renderings.
  • Steps away from the original form in order to be grammatically correct in English.
  • Steps away from the form to avoid wrong meaning or zero meaning.
  • Steps away from the form to add further clarity to the meaning.
  • Steps away from the form to enhance naturalness in English.
  • Translates some Hebrew or Greek words many different ways.
  • Changes some of the original words to nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs or multiple-word phrases.
  • Sometimes translates an assortment of different Hebrew or Greek words all the same way in English.
  • Leaves some Hebrew and Greek words untranslated.
  • Adds English words that do not represent any particular word in the Hebrew or Greek text.
  • Changes single words into phrases, even when it is not required.
  • Translates concepts in place of words in many contexts.
  • Sometimes gives priority to naturalness and appropriateness over the ideal of seeking to be transparent to the original text.
  • Sometimes chooses not to use a literal, transparent rendering even though one is available.
  • Substitutes present-day terms in place of some biblical terms.
  • Paraphrases in some contexts.
  • Uses interpretation when translating ambiguities.
  • Makes thousands of changes that amount to much more than dropping a “jot” or a “tittle.”
  • Adds interpretation, even when it is not absolutely necessary.
  • Replaces some masculine forms with gender-neutral forms.
  • Often sets aside the goal of reflecting each inspired word in order to better reflect the inspired naturalness and readability of the original.

The book is not written at a highly technical level, though most of it reflects the writer’s technical competence of the issues. It can be understood by those who have not studied the biblical languages and could be used in a local church setting. Some items I might have wanted to see stated more precisely or more suitably qualified (e.g., the comments on the LXX and on the OT quotes in the NT could use some revision and clarification), but overall, this is a book that I recommend. Pair it with the Fee/Strauss volume How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth and add Carson’s essay “The Limits of Functional Equivalence in Bible Translation—And Other Limits, Too,” ch. 3 of The Challenge of Bible Translation, ed. Scorgie (there are some other good essays in that vol. also), and you’d have a good introduction to the issues involved in Bible translation.

– – –

I just discovered that Dave Brunn blogs here.

The “Jesus Seminar” quietly evaporated some years back, but the same attitude continues in other venues. One of my colleagues just brought in the Philadelphia Inquirer for 3/3/2013 (pp. C-1-2) and lo and behold, there’s A New New Testament coming out this week (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) with 37 books. From the news story:

“This… is the first revision of the Christian canon. Period.”

(With reference to Athanasius in the 4th C.): “As the new orthodoxy and its standardized Bible became ascendant, the noncanonical books declined in circulation, uncopied, and fell into desuetude.” [i.e., the usual Bauer hypothesis of the history of orthodoxy]

They gathered “a panel of national spiritual leaders to consider which of those many texts merited inclusion in an expanded canon. [They] chose not to rely …on gospel scholars but ‘people I knew to be committed to raising spiritual questions for themselves.’ [who] ranged theologically from centrist to very liberal with a strong feminist outlook.”

[The] “very premise seems to question whether Christianity got Jesus right.”

[The editor] “came to see the Bible not as history but poetry. The ancient writers seeking to grasp the astonishing new Jesus movement ‘didn’t write down what happened … they wrote what it meant. Harking back to ancient documents helps us think about things in new ways…. The more good ones the better’.”

Such people have all the right in the world to publish new ideas, but I take umbrage at their having the audacity to call it Christianity. Invent a new religion that fits a postmodern view of truth if you like, just be honest and call it something other than Christianity. Another warmed-over view of the Bauer hypothesis (not much different than Bart Ehrman’s efforts in recent years) that takes no account of the massive critiques of Bauer cannot be taken seriously.

As if another book were needed (maybe it is!), there is another book poking more holes in the Bauer hypothesis being published later this year, edited by Paul Hartog, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts (Wipf & Stock); I wrote the introductory chapter for the book: “The Rehabilitation of Heresy: ‘Misquoting’ Earliest Christianity.”

Dan Wallace has just posted a more detailed review of the New New Testament with information that was not yet available when I wrote my initial reaction above—though his reaction is very similar:

A New New Testament: Are You Serious?

In short, the New New Testament is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The council that put these books forth is a farce. It has nothing to do with the councils of old, yet implicitly seeks to claim authority on the basis of concocted semblance. The books were selected by those who, though certainly having a right to scholarly examination of the Christian faith, are not at all qualified to make any pronouncements on canon.

Free “pro-ESV” booklet

November 26, 2012

The translation we choose can interpret difficult passages for us as the translators saw fit, or it can help us get closer to the world of the Bible, closer to the original languages, and closer to the figures and images of Scripture. The difference between the two approaches is not insignificant. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). So why not get as many of those words over into English as we can?

Westminster Bookstore is offering for one week a free download of Kevin DeYoung’s booklet, “Why Our Church Switched to the ESV.” It’s worth getting while it’s free (a 30 pg booklet that normally retails for $4).

The ESV is not a bad translation, but neither is it one that can be claimed as “the best available” or “best in every English-speaking situation.” Now DeYoung does not say this, but some do. He says that “the ESV [is] certainly not perfect; no translation is” (p. 8). I agree. (You can read my evaluation of the ESV in some detail here.)

My point here is not to begin another “version debate” (there’s been enough of that already), but to suggest that there is a false dichotomy in DeYoung’s conclusion. Is the choice really between:

“The translation we choose can interpret difficult passages for us as the translators saw fit”

on the one hand, or on the other hand is it that:

“it can help us get closer to the world of the Bible, closer to the original languages, and closer to the figures and images of Scripture”?

DeYoung intends the first option to be that of the NIV and the second the ESV. I’d suggest that if we want to get closer, that perhaps an approach like the NIV might be the best way to do just that. While “academics” (and “academic-oriented pastors” like DeYoung) like the sense of reading a very formal equivalent since they can connect such a formal equivalent with the languages that lie behind them, is that the best target audience? I’d like to think that general purpose English translations ought to be aimed, not at academics, but at “ordinary people” (i.e., those without seminary training an a knowledge of the biblical languages). These ordinary readers do not know what options there are behind bare formal equivalents that use archaic syntax and idiom. I think that in almost every instance the one better equipped to help the reader “get closer” to what God said is the qualified translator and his teammates.

At one point DeYoung argues that

“It is important to translate, insofar as possible, not just the thought of the biblical writers but the meaning that each word contributes to the sentence.”

That’s a typical “ESVer’s” argument, but it also misrepresents other approaches by implying that they omit words or at least the meaning of words in the original text. What makes that so obvious is that the ESV does the exact same thing many, many times. (See my review for examples.) DeYoung is saved, of course, by his qualification “insofar as possible.” But that sword cuts two ways. The ESV could easily do so far more frequently than it does (I’m glad they don’t!), so it is not “insofar as possible.” Some of the best portions of the ESV are those places where they have used translation equivalents very much like the NIV! The real difference is how frequently the ESV and NIV do such things. But that just means that the balance point is slightly different for the two translations; there is not as radical a difference as Crossway’s PR department would have you believe.

I’ll try to be satisfied with just one more comment.

The ESV requires much less “correcting” in preaching. This may be the most important reason for switching to the ESV.

I’m not so sure about that. Perhaps the counter perspective is that the ESV requires a lot more “explaining” in preaching—though certainly a lot less than the KJV. There is a trade-off whichever way one goes.

But I’ll leave it at that. The booklet is worth getting—the price is right! 🙂 Just balance it out with some other perspectives. If you happen to be near a Zondervan bookstore (and perhaps others), you can probably get my booklet on the NIV for free (the price is, once again, “right”! 🙂 ) That booklet is the conclusion of my review of the NIV11 in Themelios last year.

Zondervan has just released a new parallel Greek-English NT that is of interest:

NIV Greek and English New Testament, ed. John R. Kohlenberger III (Zondervan, 2012). 962 pgs. + maps. $52.99 hardcover, ISBN 978-0310495901; $69.99 Italian Duo-Tone leather, ISBN 978-0310495895.

This is similar in design to the NET Bible NT with parallel NA27 Greek text, only about half the size.* This is not an interlinear (thank goodness!), but a parallel edition. The right hand page throughout is the NIV 2011 revision (for which see my review in Themelios). The facing page is the Greek NT. The Greek text printed is similar to the one found in Zondervan’s Reader’s Greek NT. That is, it provides the Greek text that underlies the NIV translation.

Though this is not a critical edition with a full textual apparatus, it does indicate all variations from the standard UBS4/NA27 text. As such it is a valid, usable Greek text. Though the variations from the UBS/NA texts are relatively few, this simply reflects the textual decisions of a different group of editors much as Michael Holmes has done in the SBL Greek NT (and many other scholars before him: Souter, Merk, Bover, Tischendorf, Westcott & Hort, Alford, Tregelles, etc.). According to the introduction, there are technically 720 differences in the Greek text when compared with the UBS/NA texts, but half of this number are only matters of what words are placed in square brackets. (This edition does not use square brackets in the text to mark words that have been questioned by some scholars, but they are all duly noted in the footnotes.)

More interesting is the typography. The page layouts of the facing pages are nearly identical with (for the most part) the same paragraphing, indentation, punctuation, and section headings. In this case the typographical “standard” is the NIV with the Greek text laid out to match. This does result in a Greek text that does not use the traditional Greek form for such things as paragraph breaks, though Greek punctuation is retained (e.g., the Greek question mark is still ‘;’ and has not been conformed to the English ‘?’). This makes it much easier to compare the English text with the Greek. Since typographical matters (including punctuation) are editorial, this is not at all objectionable. The most obvious differences (other than the paragraphing) will be the punctuation, especially when paragraphs are involved; i.e., when a paragraph break has been “added” to the UBS/NA text, the final punctuation has typically been changed to a period despite other Greek texts having a comma or semicolon at that point.

The printed form is nicely done with what appears to be good quality Bible paper—thin and very white, yet sufficiently opaque so that text on the reverse of a leaf does not distract. With thin Bible paper there will almost always be some shadow of the text visible on the reverse when the reverse has blank areas. Some editions show too much in this regard, but I think the tradeoffs here are well balanced. The Greek font used is legible. I might prefer just a tad more leading on the Greek page—even one point (and maybe even a half point) would help legibility. But then you need to allow for the fact that my eyes are not as sharp as they once were, even with bifocals. Most people will not be bothered by this and the leading is probably not much different than any other Greek NT.

Where an edition like this might be used in another question. I adamantly do not recommend its use in a first year class. Though it would be a major improvement over an interlinear or an electronic text, it still provides too easy a “pony” to tempt the beginning student into over confidence. Students will not learn to read Greek if they try to learn with the English too easily at hand.† Once there is a solid foundation, however, a text like this has a place in second or third year classes, especially if one goal is to read larger sections of Greek text. In this case rapid reading is facilitated by using the parallel English text as a “quick lexicon.” This is even easier with the explicitly parallel paragraphing/typography on the facing pages. It would even have a place in an exegetical class as students wrestle with how meaning is expressed. Since Greek and English are such different languages in this regard, the task of correlating the two texts can be very instructive. Though some would think that a formal equivalent translation (e.g., NASB) is best for this purpose, I demur. It is the functional equivalent choices found in the mediating translations such as NIV, HCSB, NET (text) [and yes, even some of the functional equivalents in the ESV! 🙂 I just wish they had done more of this!] that force the students to move beyond wooden word-for-word glosses and grapple with meaning. (I am less comfortable with full-blown functional equivalence such as NLT, but even that may have a place in some situations.)

There are other situations in which this sort of edition can be useful. The pastor will appreciate having one book open on his desk rather than two, and carrying one instead of two is also much more convenient. Many these days use only digital editions and even on the small screen of an iPhone one can have parallel Greek-English panes open. But I am still persuaded that reading is best done from a printed text where context is more prominent. There is a limit to what one can see on a screen, esp. on the limits of a laptop or tablet screen—and those monstrous displays in the 23–30″ range are not really “reading” screens; one can have many windows open on a large screen, but there is too much head movement required to read comfortable across that span, even if arranged in narrower columns. But that’s just the contrarian opinion of a book lover! Your mileage may vary!

*The NET edition is useful but it is a hefty book due to the extensive notes included.
†I do use parallel Greek-English examples in my forthcoming first year grammar, but I do so in a progressive manner, first giving actual Greek texts in parallel with the current “feature” hi-lighted, then additional examples without the parallel English. When actually teaching I have students cover the English column when they first begin working on a new text and only uncovering it after they think they know what it says.

Evil Invades Sanctuary

November 4, 2012

I just finished reading a compelling and very helpful book. It has nothing to do with technical NT studies, but a lot to do with an aspect of ministry that gets, I’m coming to think, far too little attention.

Carl Chinn, Evil Invades Sanctuary: The Case for Security in Faith-Based Organizations (By the author, 2012). 146 pgs. $12.00. ISBN: 978-0-615-65788-2.

Available from the author’s website:

Although this is a privately published book, it is one that someone in any church or ministry ought to read. It is not a sensationalist treatment, but a thoughtful, practical consideration of why ministries ought to consider security—not just against terroristic violence, but against a wide range of potential dangers. The book is not a “how to do it” book, but a why do it. There are references to other sources on the “how to” aspects of the matter.

The author writes from firsthand experience. He was directly involved in terror attacks/shootings at two ministries: the invasion of Focus on the Family by an armed terrorist in 1996 and the shooting rampage in 2007 which left many people dead and injured at New Life Church in Colorado. In both cases Mr. Chinn was face-to-face with the attacker. Detailed accounts of both situations are included in the book, though they serve as introductions and conclusions to the primary material that comprise the bulk of the book.

New Book on the New Covenant

October 27, 2012

Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant: 3 Views
Edited by Michael D. Stallard
Contributors: John Master, Dave Fredrickson, Roy Beacham, Elliott Johnson, Rod Decker, Bruce Compton
Schaumberg, IL: Regular Baptist Books, 2012 (released Oct. 2012)
285 pgs., $24.99
ISBN-10: 1607764946
ISBN-13: 978-1607764946

Available on Amazon via Faith Bookstore

These chapters present material that was originally part of the 2009 Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics. The heart of the book is a “3 Views” section in which Beacham, Johnson, and myself argue for three different views as to how the new covenant relates to the church. Each chapter is followed by responses from the other two writers. Other chapters set the discussion in historical, biblical, and theological context.

Lest anyone be shocked that there is a multiplicity of views on the subject, let it be noted that most theological systems have such diversity. Though they may seem incongruous to outsiders, they do not affect the essence of the system. E.g., covenant theology also has divergences on some of the “biggies,” e.g., the old covenant, the millennium, etc. (Following the 2009 Council we were mocked by one covenant theology blog for not being able to figure out what was supposedly an open & shut case. I forget which blog—the tone used was not helpful.)


Foreword, John Master, Philadelphia Biblical Univ.

Which Are the New Covenant Passages in the Bible? Dave Fredrickson, Western Seminary, Sacramento

The Interpretation of the New Covenant in the History of Traditional Dispensationalism, Mike Stallard, Baptist Bible Seminary

– – –

[The 3 Views section]

The Church Has No Legal Relationship to or Participation in the New Covenant, Roy Beacham, Central Baptist Seminary

The Church Has an Indirect Relationship to the New Covenant, Elliott Johnson, Dallas Theological Seminary

The Church Has a Direct Relationship to the New Covenant, Rodney J. Decker, Baptist Bible Seminary

– – –

Epilogue: Dispensationalism, the Church, and the New Covenant, Bruce Compton, Detroit Baptist Seminary

Devotions on the Greek New Testament
ed. J. Scott Duvall & Verlyn D. Verbrugge
Zondervan, 2012 (released Oct. 2012)

This is only a book note, not a full review. And so that you know, Zondervan sent me a copy gratis with the proviso that I post a note regarding it on my blog. I’ve not read the entire book, only sampled some random chapters. There are 52 of these chapters, intended to provide one devotional reading per week for a year (though other sequences could certainly be used including one a day). It’s not a big book, only 147 smallish pgs. (that thankfully have reasonably sized type and appropriate leading and margins—not cramped and crowded as some recent publications from Zondervan have had). The contributors include some well known NT scholars along with some lesser known ones. All are broadly evangelical, though there is, of course, some variety of perspective within the group. Some have written two, others one entry. The ones that I read seemed generally appropriate to the intended purpose. It would be worth taking a look at to decide if it’s something that would be useful to you.

University of Chicago Press 2012 sale

PDF catalog here (see p. 49)

The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
Frederick William Danker
2009 408 p. 6 x 9
673 Cloth ISBN: 978-0-226-13615-8 $55.00 Your Price: $19.00

I’d buy a second copy—except that I already have two! This is well worth the money even if you have the big one—BDAG—since it reflects Danker’s thoughts on definitions following the publication and reviews of BDAG. It’s also a lot easier to carry around. (No, it’s not available in any digital format that usable. You can get it on Kindle, but no navigation help—you have to page through the entire book one page at a time!)

GTJ ceased publication some time ago, but the full run of back issues is now posted online for free. I don’t know how long this pdf archive has been available, but I just discovered it thanks to a note on Dave Black’s “unblog.” My first published article was in GTJ, and yes, it’s included in the archive, “Polity and the Elder Issue,” Grace Theological Journal 9.2 (Fall 1988): 257-277.